The Things They Carried:Novel Summary: “Notes”

Summary of “Notes”OBrien says the previous story was written in 1975, requested by Norman Bowker in a letter, describing his difficult life after the war. He had taken brief, meaningless jobs as a cook, a janitor, and salesman, while living with his parents. He even tried junior college, but it seemed irrelevant. He could no longer get out of bed. He was alone without friends. He feels like he died the night Kiowa died in the muck. OBrien says that Bowkers letter hit him hard, because he himself had been able to make the transition back by going to graduate school and becoming a writer. He was able to write about the war for catharsis. He wrote the story of Norman Bowkers hard time, but three years later Norman hung himself. He was unable to come back and truly died in Vietnam.
Commentary on “Notes”OBrien realizes he has been able to save himself through writing. It is the only way he has been able to get people to hear his experience. Norman seems to be fixated on Kiowas death and his failure to save him, but as comes out in the rest of the stories, no one was to blame. Each man blames himself for the death and horror that is actually beyond anyones control. OBrien partly blames himself for Normans death because he did not tell his story accurately. He took part of the information and put it into a novel. He did not include the part about Kiowas death until this retelling. OBrien admits he had been afraid to revisit the night of Kiowas death in the muck field. The failure to save Kiowa was not Normans fault; it was his own fault, for the story is his own. This last cryptic remark seems to indicate that all the experiences OBrien writes are dramatizations of his own experience.